Day1 easing of Lockdown: Lagos residents flood roads, ignore social distancing guideline

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..Motorists flout ban on inter-state movement
..Substantial use of face masks recorded
.Partial compliance of 60 per cent occupancy capacity by Danfo operators
.BRT operators comply with 21 passengers per trip
..Gridlocks return to major highways
..Okada riders comply to suspension of operation order
.Customers besiege banks, markets

Contrary to Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s appeal against flooding the road, residents on Monday, trooped out en-masse to transact their various businesses, following a suspension of the five weeks lockdown order in the state.

Sanwo-Olu, during his 10th briefing on an update of COVID-19 in Lagos, said as the gradual easing of the lockdown commences Monday, urged residents not to take it as a license to flood the streets, saying the state could not afford to go from zero to hundred. He urged residents to still remain at home if they could work remotely and away from the office.

Lagos State on Monday commenced a modified phase of the four-week Lockdown as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari. The new phase is a gradual and controlled easing of the Lockdown, slated to last for six weeks, in three phases of two weeks each.

The goal is to enable the government to achieve a balance between the protection of lives and the sustenance of livelihoods.

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Checks by Vanguard on the first day of the easing of the lockdown revealed total chaos as residents, motorists, commercial bus operators stormed the roads as early as 7 am.

Across the state, there were gridlocks on the roads visited. Motorists stayed long hours in traffic before getting to their destinations.

The Bus Rapid Transit, BRT operators kept to the 60 per cent occupancy capacity, with 21 passengers on board.

Though along Ikorodu Road, passengers in the BRT long queue did not observe physical distancing, however, the operators only permitted passengers with face marks onboard.

It was a big task for law enforcement agents at the Lagos-Ogun border areas, specifically, Kara, along Lagos Ibadan Expressway, to enforce a ban on interstate movement of vehicles as truck, cars and other vehicle operators struggled to gain entrance into Lagos.

Articulated vehicles, carrying livestock, like cows, rams, among others, with outrageous passengers on it were seen struggling with security agents to enter Lagos.

Due to the high influx, some truck drivers were forced to turn back, some were able to gain entry, while others who were not lucky enough had their vehicles impounded.

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Areas like: Ikeja, Agege, Ikorodu Express Road, Lagos Abeokuta Expressway, Oshodi, Egbeda, Ikotun, Obalende, Third Mainland Bridge, Funsho Williams Avenue, formerly Western Avenue, Badagry Expressway, LASU-Iba road, all recorded high vehicular and human activities.

Most banks visited were all invaded by customers who ignored the physical distancing rule as the struggled to gain entrance into the banking hall. The bank security men were at the entrance to ensure compliance with 60 occupancy capacity directive at a time into the banking hall.

Also, most commercial bus operators did not comply with the 60 per cent occupancy capacity as they filled their buses with passengers. Some passengers not using face masks, while the majority were seen with their masks on.

However, there is 98 per cent compliance on the suspension on the operation of commercial motorcyclists, popularly called “Okada” riders, as they stayed off the roads. Only a few riders were seen operating within the streets.

At Iyana-Ipaja Markets, shoppers were seen in their large numbers in frantic buying, mingling among themselves without observing the physical distancing. Also, there was no handwashing, sanitizers facilities at the entrance of the market and other markets visited as directed by the governor as measures against the spread or contracting of the virus.

In some places including Ita Opo, Imokun, Noforija, Poka, Odomola, Iraye in Epe area of Lagos, some people did not comply with the use of face mask.

In Eleko, Awoyaya, Abijo, Ajah, areas of Ibeju Lekki, most commercial drivers did not comply with the 60 per cent occupancy capacity guidelines by the state government.

Although, there was no heavy rush for buses as expected. Some people who also boarded the bus did not use a face mask as instructed.

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Speaking with Vanguard, Mr Paul Adeoti, a commuter in Eleko said, “it is said that most people did not understand the implication of not complying with the guidelines by the state government to protect themselves against the novel coronavirus.”

He lamented that those who were supposed to ensure complaints are the same people violating the rules and at the same time, ensuring that they inflict hardship on commuters as they have decided to hike the transportation fares.

“Those commercial bus drivers that were ready to comply with the 60 per cent capacity loading insisted on increasing the price of transport fares. So, from Eleko to Ajah is now N300 instead of N200. And transportation fare from Ajah to CMS has also increased”, he noted.

Efforts to speak with some commercial drivers proved abortive as they were seen rushing to board passengers, those approached declined comment, but only said, “we have to chop (eat).”

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